Yesterday the Democratic Senate announced its new “Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act.” Soon after a group of GOP Senators discussed their similar legislation, with the differences in the two being what you would imagine. Clean energy means different things to the two political parties.
The Democratic proposal involves the development of new clean energy sources, similar to those that have long been underway in many states that simply could not wait for a Democratic President and Congress and began their own programs years ago. Frankly, the Republican proposal is one that could have been written, and probably was, by the nuclear power industry and the oil and gas industry. (As opposed to Bush’s “nucular” power industry. Now that the GOP is on the payroll, we’ll probably hear it pronounced correctly.)
Their idea is to put up 100 nuclear power plants (let’s try to increase our odds of all becoming radioactive) and then use the electricity generated to run electric cars. While that is going on, they propose, let’s dig oil wells in every conceivable place so that we can use up all the oil as quickly as possible and leave our cities, towns and national parks looking like old photos of Bakersfield in the 1920s. No caps on polluters, by the way. That would be too, too burdensome on companies making billions of dollars…by polluting the hell out of the atmosphere.
Both bills seem to have the invisible hand of the lobbyists on them. The difference is that the Democrats have the hand of the environmentalists, Gore, et al, and the renewable energy lobbyists, whoever they are, on theirs. What does that mean? It means we borrow more money from the government, support these new industries and then get our payback in new jobs and the taxes from the newly employed. I assume or hope at least that there willl be taxes on carbon, which Paul Volcker thinks is one way to help get our deficits under control. The Democrats say that there will be no new taxes, except, I assume on the big polluters if they don’t change their ways. It is true that we knocked off our acid rain problem relatively quickly in pretty much the same way as this bill works.
The Democratic proposal does ratchet up the jobs market. But so does the Republican proposal. The problem with the Republican proposal is that their bill would employ the same people who are now already employed, the big energy companies, the oil and gas industry, the downsized but established auto industry. And they have no guarantees that we can continue their policies after the first oil well in Yellowstone is banned or the first nuclear plant in downtown Houston melts down.
This is the next big shoe to drop. The corporations pushing the GOP plan have almost unlimited money and political power, like the health care industry on steroids. When one corporation can send its CEO on his way with $400 million in parting gifts, you know they’ve got big bucks, or a very stupid board of directors.
While Senators Inhofe and Alexander are telling you of the great success of potential nuclear power, what they don’t mention is that it will cost the U.S. $800 billion. And we are on the hook, the taxpayers for the entire liability of the system. Oh yes. Make no mistake. This is government pork cooked on a nuclear stove. Furthermore, the CBO estimates…this is a really good one…a 50% failure rate, which means we lose $400 billion and are still on the hook for the other $400 billion.
Not to mention the results of any catastrophes. Just imagine another Katrina, only imagine it to be Houston…unlivable (at least more unlivable) for 300 years! Can’t happen? Ask the Russians. And if we do this in a half-ass way (think Katrina and horse farmers as head of FEMA) it could happen in more than one place. Do you really want to trust your city to the astute judgement and sharp intelligence of Sarah Palin, let alone another George W. (“Nucular”) Bush? Hasn’t the GOP ruined enough already? Is greed finally more important than American citizens? What other conclusion can there be?
The Democrats proposal takes on global warming very intelligently. This says nothing about cap and trade or that sort of thing, but what it does point out is that we can create about 4 jobs for every 1 we now have in energy through the implementation of this bill. Of course, not every Republican is on board. But there are some already: Senators, like Snowe, McCain, Murkowski, Lugar. Naturally, they are being hammered by people like Michelle Malkin who is a paid propagandist for the oil and gas and every other industry that is affected by legislation. So that tells you right there that the bill is good. If Michelle Malkin is against it it is good. If Dick Lugar were against it, you could question if the bill is good. But he is for it and she is against him. It’s foolproof.
By the way, the Democratic bill does not exclude nuclear power. Nuclear power is included in the bill. Simply not to the point that you would use it to power your toothbrush.
The bill does pin the responsibility on the big corporations, the 7,500 top companies responsible for a huge percentage of our pollution. And this is not a winner-takes-all. These companies have good options. This can be done. Since 2005 we have actually reduced carbon emissions by 8.5%. Not enough, but have you noticed a drastic change in your lifestyle as a result of carbon emissions going down? No.
Of course you could say that for the last year you have been busy staying alive. The point is that this is not going to throw people out of work or reduce the quality of your life. In fact, in those areas where there may or definitely will be job displacement, those workers have already been identified and specific dollar provisions written into the bill. There are long-term adjustments in income, retraining and a host of features that make sure that workers can move out of a dead-end business and into a growing one, should displacement occur.
The problem with the GOP proposal is that it relies primarily on the building of 100 nuclear power plants. Now, Republicans will tell you that nuclear power works all over the world. And it works here. Yes, it does. But the problem is that the Germans make the trains run on time and we don’t. We have already had a near-Chernobel experience called 3-mile Island and we don’t want another. We are capable of handling our current situation with the possible exception of the fact that we already have millions of tons of radioactive material and no where to store it. Of course if you are not worried about glowing like a light saber at night…no problem. We’ll store it in your back yard.
This is basically a nuclear power industry proposal being pushed by those in the GOP getting big money from the nuclear power industry. And these are people like Senator Inhofe of Oklahoma who conveniently doesn’t believe that there is global warming (so he says.) Of course he probably thinks that dinosaurs and men and Starbucks locations all existed at the same time. Inhofe is not the brightest bulb in the room, but he may be one of the most “for sale.” Keep an eye on your watch if you ever shake hands with him.
Senator Alexander of Tennessee is also selling out on this. Senator Surgeon, “Butcher” Barasso, the MD turned lobbyist panderer, with only a dozen constituents, can pick up some loose change by supporting this dangerous plan. And of course John Thune, who will sell out to anyone with a checkbook is also strongly behind it. Of course you have more space to run away when you are up there in the Dakotas, if a power plant turns into a “mushroom cloud.”
So it is good news. The Democrats will have the votes. The President is on board. People like Dick Lugar and Paul Volcker and other reasonably trustworthy, fiscally-conservative people are behind it thus far. It is good news for the environment, but particularly good news because this is the kind of industry we need to get moving right away for jobs.
Always remember…until you hear differently….”It’s the JOBS, stupid!” Morally and economically, it is essential: we need more jobs NOW! Good, long-term jobs if possible. Re-structuring energy is win, win, win.